November 2010

When we were approached by Evans Centre for Dental Health & Wellness to help promote their annual Halloween candy buy back event, we thought it was genius idea. Kids could bring in their excess Halloween candy and in exchange receive $1.00 per pound of candy, a fun LED toothbrush, stick on tattoos and tickets for a draw to win cool prizes like an iPod etc.

We were more than a little surprised to read a string of negative comments online concerning the candy buy back. There were criticisms about what happens to the candy (because some were angry about spending good money on candy that gets tossed) and the injustice of tempting children with Halloween only to confiscate their candy.

This is how my 5 year old felt about trading in his hard earned bon-bons.

Prior to this Halloween, we still had candy leftover from last Halloween. I call that that a bit excessive. On Halloween night after our son had tricked and treated his little heart out, we let him eat all the candy he could handle. Then we asked him if he would be interested in picking out the candy he wanted to keep and take the rest to a dentist to get some money. He eagerly agreed and picked out the pieces he did not really like. He now has a small cookie jar full of all his favorite candy that he can savour for the next few months. The rest he happily traded in for cold hard cash.

We gave our child a choice. If he had said absolutely not and instead wanted to keep ALL of his candy, we would not have participated. But he really wanted to trade his candy for cash; with the promise of a new toy with the proceeds. Some people chose to donate the money to charity, which is very noble of them, but our son was not feeling particularly philanthropic. We went across the way to Toys R Us at Market Mall and actually ran into three other families from the event doing the exact same thing!

Some people were critical that Dr. Evans chose to toss the candy rather than donate it because it is so wasteful. People, he is a D-E-N-T-I-S-T. Candy is like Kryptonite to a dentist! How could Dr. Evans, in good conscious, willingly donate a product that causes cavities (as well as other health issues) to people without access to (any) good dental hygiene such as the homeless or those in developing countries. That would be totally hypocritical.

Bonnie Bend from Great Things In Store in Cochrane also ran a similar program. She has chosen to save the candy and redistribute it at future events, parties, parades, etc. Spread the wealth, so to speak. This is an option some people may feel more comfortable with but she owns clothing store and therefore does not have the same moral and philosophical obligations as a dentist does.

Maybe instead of worrying about throwing away candy, we should look for other alternatives. Each year, rather than hand out fistfuls of candy, we hand out a bit of candy and another item. Stickers, play dough, magnets etc. Evan came home this year with lots of chips, a mini safety flashlight, stick on tattoos, and pencils. He was just as excited about those items as the candy.

For most kids Halloween is about the thrill of the chase. Getting dressed up, running door to door with their friends and screeching Trick or Treat at the top of their lungs is the highlight of the year. The candy? That’s just the cavity-causing icing on the cake.